Destin History and Fishing Museum Upgrades for 2020

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By Cali Hlavac, To Do In Destin

Nestled back on Stahlman Drive near our Destin Community Center lies a small house-like building showcasing the history of fishing in our beach town, known as the Destin History and Fishing Museum. January is a great time to visit and see first hand the journey our city has gone through since Leonard Destin landed ashore in 1835.

The Destin Fishing Museum opened Oct. 1, 2005, with a goal to share the story of how our small fishing village became a major tourist attraction. It houses thousands of historic photographs, artifacts, fishing equipment, murals, fish mounts and even some historic boats from the early days. There is even an entire section dedicated to our famous Destin Fishing Rodeo that showcases notable catches, records and more.

From scavenger hunts, to self guided tours with or without audio headsets, to having a staff member lead you through and answer your questions, the choice is yours. The museum is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. with a small admission fee to the public ranging up to $5 a person.

If you haven’t walked through the museum lately, many upgrades and new displays have been added in the last twelve months. With TDC funding, they’ve been able to maximize their space and utilize more technology to share more of our community and fishing history.

New exhibits include:
– Stories of Bruce Cheves, voice and weighmaster of the Destin Fishing Rodeo for the last 35 years, which have been digitized and matched to visuals so guests can watch on an iPad and listen through headphones. 4 have been completed and are ready to play, with a goal of 12 total stories to be available in the future.
– A new Lionfish exhibit, detailing why they are a problem and how we can help. This exhibit includes detailed replicas of Lionfish up close and personal.
Ten shocking Marine debris facts about the harmful trash in our ocean, how long it’s been there and how much it’s estimated to weigh.
– A Fisherman’s Logbook wall of 4 TV screens, playing vintage, archived, digital photos of party boats, charter fishing boats, Leonard Hutchinson collection and a variety of surf fishing, diving, pier fishing and more.
– A new Victrola display, that will have 110 records of digitized songs to be selected and played. Each song chosen by a guest will be paired with trivia questions about value, history of the Victrola, etc. Currently 17 are available to play with the rest coming soon.
Paired with six framed stain-glass windows are photos and written history of our Destin schools, Community Center, Blessing of the Fleet and our early churches.
– A hands on activity: a knot tying station where guests can practice tying knots that fishermen use.
– Kids Fish School, with foam fish replicas that can be weighed, measured and compared to other Anatomy of fish.
– A Bay Ecology section, with help from the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, with information on Oysters and their impact on our Bay waters.
– A Beach Ecology section, with information on sea turtles and why we work so hard to protect them.
– A Calhoun family display with archives and digital photos of landscapes, aerials, etc.
Along with all the upgrades inside, they also continue to add new life-size displays outside like historical boats, etc.

Kathy Marler Blue, Executive Director of the Destin Fishing Museum, says they try to make upgrades constantly depending on funding and community support, and encourages people to continually visit to see all the new additions.